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Ross: Bibi, Obama Mulling when Force against Iran is Inevitable

Speaking at AIPAC conference, Dennis Ross and Elliot Abrams agree Iran is playing "rope-a-dope."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/3/2013, 5:30 PM

Dennis Ross
Dennis Ross
Official Photo

Diplomats Dennis Ross and Elliot Abrams agreed on a Sunday panel at the AIPAC conference that Iran is successfully deceiving the P5+1 countries in the negotiations over Tehran's nuclear weapon program. The AIPAC 2013 is being carried live on Arutz Sheva.

Dennis Ross termed Iran's approach as a "rope-a-dope" strategy. Iran, he said, is playing for time vis-à-vis the P5+1. He suggested that the P5+1 countries "go for an endgame strategy."  The idea, he said, is to present Iran with a model for a civilian nuclear program, and ask – do you accept it or not?

At some point, he explained, negotiations have got to clarify whether Iran intends to comply with the P5+1 demands – or the P5+1 might have to adopt a more aggressive approach.

Elliot Abrams said that Iran continues to build up not just its nuke program but also Hizbullah and Assad's army in Syria. Russia and China are playing a game, he said – and these two countries are also a part of the P5+1.

As far as nuclear strategy is concerned, he said, "Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei is doing great. We are not." It is true, he said, that the sanctions program is damaging Iranian economy, "but the goal is to prevent them from achieving a nuclear weapon, and if you fail to do that you have failed."

Denniss Ross said that Binyamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama "will try to define prevention" when they meet in April. "They want to have a better understanding," he added, "of when does prevention as objective fail, and force become inevitable."

Abrams said the U.S. was "tragically slow" in responding to the Syria crisis. He noted that humanitarian aid has been transferred to the Syrian government until now, and praised Secretary of State Jon Kerry for saying that the aid will now go to rebels. Ross explained that the reason for the change is that the aid has been passing through the UN, and the UN has decided to transfer the aid to the rebels from now on.

Abrams served in foreign policy positions for two Republican U.S. Presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. He is currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ross served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, was the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and was a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.